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ETFs tracking defensive REIT, utilities and consumer staples sectors rise toward record highs

Tomi Kilgore

ETFs tracking three of the S&P 500's 11 sectors are headed for record closes Friday, but before investors see that as a bullish sign they should note two are for sectors used as bond proxies and the other is a defensive sector. The SPDR Real Estate Select Sector ETF rose 0.4% toward a third-straight record close; the SPDR Utilities Select Sector ETF rallied 1.1%, to top the previous record reached on June 6; and the SPDR Consumer Staples Select Sector ETF edged up 0.2% toward a seventh-straight record. Many use the REIT and utilities ETFs as bond proxies given their relatively high yields, with the REIT ETF yielding 3.16% and the utilities ETF yielding 2.97%, versus the S&P 500's implied yield of 1.99%. The 10-year Treasury note has been rallying, and yields have been falling, as investors believe the Federal Reserve's next move on interest rates will be a cut amid concerns that the economy is a slowing. That concern is also helping the consumer staple sector, which is seen as defensive as it includes companies that sell products consumer need rather than want.